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  • Smug Alert - Now 100% Organic

       October 23, 2007

    An article in the New York Times today gives consumers five easy ways to go organic. That's great. If you want to switch and eat more organic foods, go for it.

    But, reading the comments to the article, I realized that it's not that simple. You probably don't just want to eat organic. You really need to eat food produced locally. And, if you really, really care about the Earth, you should grow your own food. Oh, and don't eat meat. And for god's sake don't have kids. Kids are bad. Basically, human beings are really bad for the Earth. And, if you don't eat organic food it's probably because you're too cheap and would rather spend your money on McMansions, SUVs and tiny American flags.

    Let me say again, I don't think there's anything wrong with eating organic or locally grown food. I'd love to get a CSA share myself (I figure it'd make me eat more vegetables, but seriously, it really is quite expensive - a luxury if you will). If you want to be a vegetarian, more power to you and more bacon for me. If you don't want kids - hey, that's fine - I'll be happy not to pay for their health care and schooling.

    But, this is nutrition as religion. I'm a little in the love with a "Corporate Apologist" who says:

    I shouldnít really comment because itís my mother taught me that you shouldnít criticize other peopleís religions, but this entire structure of thought is just that. The underlying, non-negotiable axiom is that man-made chemicals are inherently harmful. And theyíre not. ... But since itís easy to convince yourself that something with a guy in an Amish hat on the label tastes better than something that says ĎCargill,í thereís clearly a lot of money to be made among the wealthy, bored, and overfed of the U.S. But please spare us the preaching. Your theology isnít quite self-consistent and tends to be intrusive upon my breakfast.

    Can I get an "Amen"? As with all religions, followers of Organics aren't basing their beliefs in facts. It's faith. The article's author even says:

    I can tell you now that a few studies have shown nutritional benefits ó for instance I know there is data on processed tomatoes that show the organic brands have more antioxidants. But other studies have shown commercial products have more lycopene, which is also an antioxidant. I think the data on whether there is extra nutrition in organic food is mixed and I donít think there is evidence to support buying organic because it has better nutrition. Organic foods donít necessarily have less fat content or less sugar either, so itís always important to read the label. The main benefit of organic foods to consumers, I believe is that you will generally get a lower level of pesticide and chemical exposure in organic foods than commercially processed foods. However, as the story notes, even some commercially-farmed foods ó like onions ó already have very little pesticide residue no matter how they are farmed. Whether lower pesticide levels in food translates into a real health benefit to the individual, I donít believe there is any data to support that eating organic makes you healthier than eating commercial foods. However, itís an option for consumers. We have exposure to so many different things in the environment we canít control, I personally like the idea of controlling what little I can, and the food I eat and feed my family is one area. Now, I can tell you that in my personal experience, organic turkeys taste a lot better than commercial brands. Thatís purely anecdotal and has no scientific basis, of course, and it may be that I just did a better job of cooking it

    Is eating organic really about anything more than a feeling? I'm starting to think it's not. The people who posted comments to this article eat organic food not so much because of the way it makes them feel, but for the way it makes them feel about themselves. They're good people.

    I think lots of people out there want to make the world a better place. But, like most of us, they don't want to do anything about it if it's too hard. Buying organic food is easy. It's a magic bullet. You can save the world while making a trip to your local co-op. Sweet!

    Posted by at October 23, 2007 04:30 PM

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